Three volunteers who resigned suddenly from a municipal youth group last month said it’s unlikely they would return to the organization after a fracas with the mayor left them feeling insulted and unappreciated.
“It’s offensive. You don’t work that hard and then turn around and have someone tell you it’s crap,” Mary Win Connor, former chairwoman of the Forest Park Youth Commission, said.
As of last week, Connor had not yet heard from Mayor Anthony Calderone, whose Aug. 17 memo to members of the commission prompted the departure of three key volunteers. During a public meeting with several remaining commission members, Calderone had pledged to try and meet with Connor to reconcile their differences.
Connor abruptly ended her five-year tenure on the commission after a memo from the mayor’s office suggested the volunteers had “watered down” the goals of the organization. Rachell Entler and Erika Goodman then resigned their spots on the commission.
“The approach he took was, in my opinion, quite over the top,” Entler said of her last interactions with the mayor.
Both Entler and Goodman, too, said they had not heard from Calderone, but suggested any attempt to bury the hatchet may not be enough.”There isn’t,” Goodman said when asked if there were a chance she would reconsider. Goodman is an employee of Wednesday Journal Inc., which publishes the Forest Park Review.
Calderone’s August memo came on the heels of several months’ worth of second-hand information traveling in both directions regarding the functions of the youth commission. It wasn’t until the mayor attended the group’s Aug. 20 meeting that the root cause of the discord surfaced. Eric Connor, a commission member and husband to Mary Win, said then that a rivalry between the mayor and Commissioner Rory Hoskins was to blame. He accused the mayor of jealously guarding the youth commission from Hoskins. In turn, Calderone said the commission’s sponsorship of a June pool party organized by Hoskins was inappropriate.
“Whatever problems those two have, they need to work it out,” Mary Win Connor said.
The youth commission was founded by the municipality in the early 1960s but had been disbanded for several decades until 2004. A basketball program run in partnership with the police department is one of the group’s more popular clinics. Pool parties, holiday celebrations and sports-related activities are also typical of the youth commission.
Entler, whose husband is a member of the park district board and Kiwanis, said the end of her relationship with the youth commission is not the end of her involvement in youth activities.
“There’s still a lot of stuff in town that I can be involved with the kids, it just may not be in an official capacity,” Entler said.
On Aug. 24, the village council approved two new mayoral appointees to sit on the youth commission.